LEXINGTON, Ohio — Scott McLaughlin picked up his second career IndyCar victory, which might go down as one of the most special wins of his career because of his parents’ presence at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The New Zealander won Sunday with his nervous mom and dad watching from pit lane. McLaughlin had not seen his family in 31 months because of the pandemic, but his parents finally were able to leave New Zealand in May to attend the Indianapolis 500.
Wayne and Diane McLaughlin booked their trip to maximize their visas and planned nine IndyCar races on their tour of the United States. It took four to see their only their son drive his Team Penske entry to victory lane.
“I really wanted to get a win here with Mom and Dad,” said McLaughlin, who had won three consecutive V8 Supercars championships in Australia.
“I’m just so excited for him just that he could get a win while we were here,” Wayne McLaughlin told The Associated Press in victory lane. “I knew he wanted to do that, but we’d never talked about it because we didn’t want to put any pressure on him. What an amazing result.”
It was one of the few celebrations at Mid-Ohio, where Chevrolet lost five cars to malfunctions and the Andretti camp fumed over contact between its drivers.
Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean kept bumping wheel-to-wheel and their final contact knocked the steering wheel out of Rossi’s hands, leaving him unable to turn as both cars went off course.
Rossi finished 19th, Grosjean was 21st and Colton Herta spun midrace and finished 15th, best of the four-car Andretti fleet.
When he won his first race in February on the street course in St. Petersburg, Florida, he had to celebrate with his parents via FaceTime.
McLaughlin, who won three consecutive V8 Supercars championships in Australia before moving to IndyCar, said his parents had last been present at a win at the Bathurst 1000 in 2019.
“It’s not just to be together, but just to win with them here. That’s the coolest thing,” he said. “Even in Australia, I didn’t really win with them a lot at the race. It just means so much. They’re the people that shaped me as a person.
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) July 3, 2022
“I’m probably giving them a few more gray hairs, but that’s part of the development of everything, and I’m really proud to win in front of them, win in front of Mom.”
IndyCar champion Alex Palou finished second for Chip Ganassi Racing and Honda, and Will Power had a brilliant run to put a second Penske driver on the podium. Power had been penalized in qualifying, started 21st, spun in the opening laps and charged through the field to finish third.
The race had the potential to upend the IndyCar standings after the top three drivers in the standings – Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, Power and Penske teammate Josef Newgarden – all had poor qualifying efforts. It put Pato O’Ward, who was fourth in the points, on the pole with the chance to close major ground in the title hunt.
Instead, he and Arrow McLaren SP teammate Felix Rosenqvist were two of the five Chevrolets knocked out early (both with mechanical failures), and Ericsson retained his hold on the standings. He leads Power by 20 points. McLaughlin moved up two spots to seventh, 69 points behind Ericsson.
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Rinus VeeKay finished fourth for Ed Carpenter Racing and was followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Ericsson.
Jimmie Johnson finished 16th for his best result on a road or street course. He gained 11 positions on track.
O’Ward and Rosenqvist started Sunday expecting to contend for the victory. Instead, both were knocked from the race early with issues to their Arrow McLaren SP entries.
O’Ward, who started from the pole, was screaming over his radio: “I’m losing power! I’m losing power!” fairly early in the race. Rosenqvist had already retired with some sort of electrical or mechanical problem just 18 laps into the race.
“Fuel-delivery wise, it just kept getting worse and worse and worse and then just failed,” O’Ward said. “It’s a bummer. We’ve thrown away an easy podium there.”
"We've thrown away I think an easy podium for us."
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 3, 2022
O’Ward had been trying to capitalize on poor qualifying efforts from the three championship contenders ahead of him in the standings. Instead, he finished 24th.
Rosenqvist, who is on a mission to keep his IndyCar seat with McLaren with strong runs that will stave off a relocation to McLaren’s upcoming Formula E team, started fourth in search of his first podium of the season. An issue with his Chevrolet ended the Swede’s day early.
Rosenqvist was furious and threw his gloves after climbing from his disabled car.
“It’s just unfortunate. I had a really, really good run. Big loss for us today,” he said. “You never know what would have happened later on, but I really felt like we were sailing. We were fighting for podium finishes and have to come back and do it all again.”
Rosenqvist entered the race coming off four consecutive top-10 finishes as he’s trying to make the case to keep his seat in the No. 7. He signed a multiyear extension with McLaren, but the team doesn’t know if Rosenqvist will drive next year in IndyCar or Formula E.